SENCo, Julia Clouter demonstrates ways that The Scanning Pen can be used to support emotional health and wellbeing with a versatile calming strategy for individual support.
Do you have a box available for students who struggle with feelings of anxiety? Some schools call them “Five Minute Boxes” or “Sensory Boxes” and they are a wonderful tool to support emotional decompression. Anxious students on the edge of a meltdown just don’t have the balance of brain chemicals to allow learning to take place, so sometimes the opportunity to break out for calm down time is the best option. The Sensory Box is a great way to provide an opportunity to mindfully take time out and regain control. Guidance towards self-regulation and individual validation can also be achieved with a Scanning Pen.
It is easy to create a sensory box; you just need objects with some different textures and some visual impact. Things in the box should have the potential to distract, soothe or re-direct thinking. In Sam’s box there is a plush sequin heart that changes colour when you rub your hand across it, a soft unicorn toy with huge eyes, a kaleidoscope, fiddle toys, books and a sensory mat to feel. This green rubbery mat is just a heat-proof pot stand with a honeycomb texture. It feels bumpy when you rub it and it is stretchy. Happily it takes a fair bit of pulling and twisting, this is just one of many little re-purposed objects I have found in the Pound Shop.
In Sam’s Sensory Box, I have also included a Scanning Pen, because Sam is an undiagnosed dyslexic student who has very weak reading skills. She can look at the Little Book of Calming Thoughts or her reading book without the need for TA support. I have also included some exercise cards with simple instructions for breathing. Reading is a natural bridge to being classroom ready and the Scanning Pen helps Sam to feels empowered to read, providing a much needed boost to her self-esteem.
One of Sam’s message cards says “Take a long deep healing breath; you are feeling more safe, more calm, breath out slowly.” I have printed out a couple of cards so I can choose the right message for her Sensory Box time. I have also recorded a personalised message on the voice record function of the Scanning Pen. Today’s message says “Sam, I think you are amazing, I know you are doing your best to feel calm. I am so proud of you; you are taking control of your feelings and you are going to be okay. We would love you to come back to class when you are ready.”
Sam loves her Sensory Box, we have clear guidelines about how we use it and where we go with it. We are also clear about our aims of staying in class and using our strategies in class as much as possible.